Is the Green Party being accused of defamation by Colin Craig or is it one of its co-leaders?
This media release says:
The Green Party has launched an appeal to cover the costs of defamation action being taken against the party by Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. . .
“The Green Party will defend the defamation action being brought by Colin Craig because we believe in the freedom of political speech and we believe in an inclusive and tolerant society,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman. . .
That’s very clearly stating the action is being taken against the party.
But the NZ Herald thinks it’s Norman against whom action is being taken:
Mr Craig confirmed this morning that he would start defamation proceedings against Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but with a narrower scope than originally planned.
Mr Craig would first seek a retraction from Dr Norman regarding his statements about the place of women in New Zealand. A claim against Dr Norman’s comments on gays would be delayed. . .
The party has been advised that defending the case was likely to cost around $70,000.
It will launch a campaign today to raise money for Dr Norman’s legal fees. . .
That is clear that it is Norman, not the party, against whom the action is being taken but the party is soliciting donations to help fund the defence.
They might think the co-leader and the party are so intertwined it makes no difference, but members and supporters might feel differently.
When Labour asked its members to help repay the money the party had illegally misspent on its pledge card they were less than impressed.
Many were on low to modest incomes but still happy to raise funds for the party to help it win elections. They were not at all happy about being asked for money to make amends for the consequence of a decision made by senior MPs and party officers.
The action against Norman isn’t in the same league and I think Craig is wrong to pursue it. I agree with the many commentators who’ve said he should harden up.
But Norman could stop the waste of time and money by apologising.
He says it’s about freedom of speech, I think it’s more about his pride and he, and the party, are asking supporters to pay for that.
They are free to do so, and maybe some will.
But others will feel, as Labour supporters did, that their precious spare time, energy and money would be better spent on the cause they believe in, not on an expensive sideshow.
Burning off the goodwill of supporters is never a good idea but the danger doesn’t stop there.
There’s only so much space for news and any attention Norman and his party get for this nonsense is attention not given to matter voters will regard as far more important.
Allowing the action to continue could well lose him and his party friends and votes.